Parrhesia – now more important than ever

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By Kayla Henry*

In rhetoric, parrhesia is candid speech, speaking freely. It implies not only freedom of speech, but the obligation to speak the truth for the common good, even at personal risk.

“your feelings have no relevance in the crusade for truth”
“it was never gonna be just a few days”
It’s been like this forever.
This isn’t a change of weather.
Freedoms hanging by a thread here
while we binge Netflix and TikTok…
Now, I’m not here to judge you.
I know we’re all scared and tired
and we’ve been so hardwired.
Media fueled the wrong fires.
We’re depressed, we’re dying
while billionaires are crying
with laughter—

And we’re just running faster
away from reality.
Well … Why wouldn’t we?
They’ve got guns and we’ve got family.
This isn’t conspiracy—
theories have been brought to light
throughout history.
We’re in a cave thinking we’re free.
Won’t go to the light,
it’s easier not to see.
Can we go back to dictionaries?
When definitions were clear?
We don’t read, we just fear.
Words manipulated we didn’t know existed.
Let teachers fix it
so parents can be distant.
Mess with child development.
“Just leave it to the government,”
let them draw our paths
‘cause we gave them the pencil.
We can erase this if we face it.
Us against the faces
that convince us drugs
will solve our problems
while they profit from our consumption.
Stop listening to stars and politicians
and begin using intuition,
Discerning fact from fiction.
Stop paying into our addiction
of listening to a system
that’s turning us into victims
of our lack of wisdom.
If you don’t see it now,
it’s okay to be confused,
but don’t throw rocks at those who do.
Take a step back and you’ll see who
is piloting this ruse:
A bunch of individuals
profiting from your residuals,
putting our money
into propaganda and riot police
instead of into our failing healthcare system.
They’ve always done this:
saying they need our cash to fix the roads
while they ride private jets and fancy boats.
No wonder we can’t stay afloat…
We’re right where they want us:
distanced and thoughtless,
avoiding each other
so we can’t discuss
what’s wrong with this picture.
Instead we write our feelings—
caps lock on with words vomiting
out of our thumbs
without knowledge of real arguing.
Why can’t ideas be shared
without ruining friendships and careers?
Just ‘cause someone got offended?
Never learned emotional intelligence?
Your feelings have no relevance
in the crusade for truth.
If they gave any credit to the people
we wouldn’t have censored information.
We just see one side on every station
pushing separation between each other
so we’re too busy judging mothers
who wonder why their kids
are being smothered—
Masks in gym class, call out the other
when he pulls down his mask.
How do they even learn in class?
Ads selling problems not solutions.
Our institutions told us
following was the solution.
‘Cause if you think for yourself
“you’ll go nowhere with an F.”
But I can tell you
the people who came out independent
were the ones who were observant.
I had to unlearn to become present,
and yeah, I’m still working on it,
but I make choices for myself.
This isn’t about health.
If it were they’d tell us:
“get your vitamins”
“go for walks whenever you can”
“do sports and eat well”
“have interactions – real human connections”
“raise your kids with healthy immune systems”.
Instead they punish insurrections
that fight for freedom from the infectious
disease that is control.
They swallow us whole.
Keep us indoors.
Special treatment for big-box stores,
but give us fines when we’re unsure
what martial law is in place today.
Throw us cheques to stay
on our good side,
keep us lost and afraid
‘cause we can’t afford
a rising mortgage or rent
since we lost our pay.
It was never gonna be just a few days.

* Kayla Henry is a bilingual actor based out of Montreal

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